Christine “Lady Bird” MacPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is sick of her hometown, Sacramento. She’s sick of her mother (Laurie Metcalfe) telling her what to do and putting her down. She’s sick of feeling less than her wealthy Catholic school classmates. Her grand plan is to get into an East Coast college and become the person she thinks she was always supposed to be.
What seems to have bypassed Lady Bird is that her grades are on the lower end of average and her family is on the verge of financial meltdown.
In many ways Lady Bird is a typical teenager. She is self-absorbed, impulsive and impractical and Saoirse Ronan perfectly embodies this. It’s an excellent, vulnerable performance and if you’ve ever been a teenage girl, imminently relatable.
The core focus of Lady Bird’s journey is her relationship with her mother, Marion. Marion is exhausted from trying to keep her family afloat and frustrated by what she perceives as her daughter’s unrealistic ambition. Still healing from her own upbringing she finds it challenging to relate to Lady Bird and often ends up lashing out. Lady Bird on the other hand seems completely oblivious to just how much her mother is sacrificing to give her a life she thinks is less than what she deserves. And dad, Larry (Tracy Letts) is trapped in the middle while trying to deal with his own depression after the loss of his job.
It’s a great performance from Metcalfe who embodies both Marion’s frustration and her deep love for her daughter. She obviously wants the best for her daughter but life has turned her realism into pessimism.
Lady Bird’s closest friend, Julie (Beanie Feldstein) is her greatest supporter and such a charming character. I completely fell in love with her and was crushed when Lady Bird ditched her in favour of rich, pretty Jenna Walton (Odeya Rush) in a typical teenage bid for popularity.
Lady Bird is also not short of male admirers but her relationships with Danny (Lucas Hedges) and Kyle (Timothée Chalamet) are not without drama. She falls fast and hard in the way that only teenagers do and is rewarded with mostly heartbreak.
For me, this was a great coming of age story that was touching, infuriating and often hilarious. I loved how Lady Bird’s teachers were really supportive and human, despite being nuns and priests. It would have been so cliched to go down the route of turning them into monsters but they just come across as passionate educators. The scene where the football coach attempts to take over directing the school play had me in stitches.
I also thought the ending was great. Without giving too much away, Lady Bird learns an important lesson about life in that happiness is much more about what you make out of where you are than where you are physically. I can’t wait to see what director, Greta Gerwig does next.